He was really nice to me on The Abyss. But I look back on some of the things I did when I was a kid and cringe at them — you know, what I did professionally, behind the scenes. He was so nice to me on the set, which was interesting because he was not the nicest to other people; for some reason, he took a liking to me. And then he was coming on Late Night to promote The Abyss. Well, the night before that I was at the opening of The Abyss and saw him, and he was so sweet and everything. And then before the show I saw him in the hallway and he said, “Some of the [focus group] cards came back and said, ‘Jeez, you need to use Chris Elliott more in your movie.’” And he said, “Yeah, so we should do a comedy together one of these days.” And I remember saying, “That’d be great.”Now this was, I don’t know, a cocky attitude of youth or whatever, and not understanding, really, what The Abyss had meant to James Cameron, but I went on before him to promote the fact that I was in The Abyss, and I showed a horrible pretape of Jerry Mulligan and me in this horrible fake underwater set with plastic fish floating around, and we’re yelling, “Hey! We’re in The Abyss! Get us out of here!” Just the lamest bit you can imagine — but one that the audience, you know, laughed at. And then James Cameron had to come out and seriously try to promote his movie after I had done that. Needless to say, I never heard from him again.But the moral — okay, there’s not a moral to that story. But it took me a while before I realized that not everybody necessarily wants to laugh at themselves. And at that time, working for Dave, who was the first one to make fun of himself, I just figured everybody does that. You know, that’s what we do nowadays, that’s the trend nowadays: We can all laugh at ourselves because we’re all jerks. And that was not the case, I found out. And now I totally understand how horrible it must have been to have this punk who you gave a break to come out and make fun of you before you have to come out and actually try to get people to see your movie.
Vulture has a long, excellent interview with the wonderful Chris Elliott today, in which he talks about everything from Eagleheart to his time on Letterman to Cabin Boy to SNL (both his time on the show and his daughter Abby’s) and how he totally blew it with James Cameron. Here’s that story: You really should go read the whole thing if you’re a fan of his!